The fire still burns in the belly of Nasir el Rufai
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday is holding a crisis meeting with governors of his party who are threatening to take matters into their own hands if the chaos surrounding the fuel shortage and the currency rebrand are not resolved quickly. Some of the governors including Kaduna’s Nasir el Rufai are leading a rebellion against alleged ploys by Aso rock forces to weaken the party’s presidential candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu and deny him victory in the February 25 elections.
They say charity begins at home and for the once fiery governor of Kaduna state and his latest vituperations, this statement is just as true. The governorship election in Kaduna is now delicately poised and daily it would seem the chance of Uba Sanni, the anointed successor of the Kaduna state governor is ebbing away, needlessly, on account of the self-inflicted woes of a controversial currency rebranding and the unpardonable acute fuel shortage that have placed the people of Nigeria against the ruling APC and its government. Even before the matter of the election came to a head, Afro barometer, a global pollster had done a poll in which 89% of Nigerians said they thought their country had been headed in the wrong direction in the eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari. Some of el Rufai’s proteges had for some time began to think that their man was losing his fire on account of age, but by his recent frontal attacks on a so-called power behind the throne at Aso Rock, the governor is proving that fire still burns inside of his belly.
This is the same man who fought virtually everyone who was anyone when he was minister of the FCT under Obasanjo and who then went on to take on the erstwhile General on account of a rumoured third term and eventually joined forces Buhari and others to form the ruling party. It is the same man fingered by some in the events that led to the departure of a former Chief Judge of the federation. El Rufai has a mind of his own and he is not shy to push it. His views on the economy and economic reforms are uniquely radical. Before the presidential primaries last year, the governor chose to support power rotating back to the south and so when on the eve of the primaries the assumed leader of the so-called Cabal called him to a meeting and asked him to join the fray after the shock and chaos that greeted the suggestion that Ahmed Lawan, the senate president was the choice of Buhari, El Rufai rebuffed the invitation in strong terms. He was open to anyone from the south winning the ticket of his party and only got around to supporting Bola Ahmed Tinubu after he became the party’s candidate.
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For him, the gloves are now off, the battle for the soul of APC where he is a founding member, has truly begun. Twice this week, he went on national television to lambast the so-called Cabal who is it is now said put forward Lawan and not being comfortable with a potential Tinubu presidency, want to weaken the candidate by pulling a wool over the eyes of Buhari and with the CBN as a willing ally.
On Wednesday, the governor said on a Channels television programme that the petrol shortage and the currency replacement were all contrived to turn Nigerian voters against the ruling party and its presidential candidate.
On Thursday, he went further while choosing the television station belonging to Tinubu to point his finger at the so-called Aso Rock forces as being the ones against APC and Tinubu and vowing to unmask them.
According to him, “unmasking them is not as joyful as defeating them. They will be unmasked in time. But we have defeated them when they wanted their own people in the national working committee of the party.
We have defeated them when they wanted their own anointed person to be the presidential candidate without due regard, due process or respect for those of us that are governors, that have slaved to put this party together, campaigned for it and delivered the election twice. We didn’t matter.
None of them has contested an election as a councillor, and if they did, they won’t win. I have been elected twice with over a million votes in Kaduna State. I can claim to speak for the people. None of these people can. We will come to the unmasking stage, this is not the stage.
The stage now is to draw the attention of Nigerians that they are elements that are doing this and they don’t mean well for our party, they want to incite voters against our party, so that we lose the elections.’’
Some leaders of the party have asked if Buhari would have suddenly rebranded the currency and orchestrated a fuel shortage weeks before his own re-election in 2019.